Last weekend, hundreds of members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, considered Hamas’ elite force, were deployed in Gaza along the Israeli border and assigned an unusual mission. It's doubtful that over the years, anyone in the movement’s leadership had entertained the thought that one day its military wing would be tasked with preventing rocket fire into Israel.
Seeking to maintain the status quo with Israel and thereby avoid another military confrontation, Hamas has a vested interest in stanching the firing of al-Qassam rockets and mortar shells at Israel. The image of the al-Qassam Brigades as the leader of jihad did not previously allow it to perform such a “despicable” task. It did not want other organizations in Gaza to think that it was collaborating with Israel. Now, a so-called Restraining Force has been formed to this end. It is a police force fashioned after the Israeli Border Police, but à la Gaza. The military wing kept its distance from it, but gave its blessings and guidance from the top.